Ravai Idly (Steamed Semolina Savoury Cakes)

I don’t believe Ravai Idly is native to Tamil Nadu, though Tamil Nadu is famous for its rice idlies. I have no recollection of my mother ever making ravai idlies. I came across ravai idlies only in cookery books. This dish uses curds to prepare the batter, and as I used to rack my brains for ways to utilise the leftover curds at home, I decided to give this a try. I was very pleased with the flavour of the idlies and the substantial breakfast they made.


Ravai Idly - Kalas Kalai
Ravai Idlies with idly plates

The idlies are light and fluffy due to the soda and the fat that is added to the batter. The ingredients used to give it flavour can be varied – some people even used boiled vegetables such as beans, peas, and carrots, but I prefer this version as the flavour of the vegetables clashes with the flavour of the seasoning.

Nutritive Value

As ravai/semolina is manufactured from the endosperm of the wheat it contains only 8 grams of protein compared to the full 12 grams per 100 grams in whole wheat. Still, the idlies provide a sizeable amount of protein as they include curds that provide 3 grams per 100 grams. This is also an energy rich dish as a large amount of ghee and oil are used in the preparation. Those who are on reducing and low fat diets are not advised to include this in their diet. The combination of ravai, ghee, oil, and curds makes ravai idlies far more substantial and satisfying than regular idlies.


  • 2 C Ravai (Semolina)
  • 1 ½ C thick Curds (Unsweetened Yoghurt)
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • ¼ C Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • ¼ C Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 3-4 Green Chillies, deseeded and diced
  • 2 tsp grated Ginger
  • ½ C chopped Coriander Leaves
  • 3 sprigs Curry Leaves, diced
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • ½ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Black Gram Dhal
  • 1 tsp Bengal Gram Dhal
  • 2 T broken Cashew Nuts


  1. Heat the ghee and oil in a kadai or wok.
  2. Fry the cashew nuts lightly. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the mustard seeds to the same oil. When they crackle, add the black gram and Bengal gram dhals.
  4. When they begin to brown, add the onion, chillies, ginger, coriander and curry leaves, and asafoetida powder. Stir fry till the onion becomes translucent.
  5. Transfer to a large pan.
  6. Add the ravai and salt, and mix well.
  7. Beat the curds to a smooth consistency. Add to the ravai and blend well.
  8. Boil water in an idly steamer.
  9. Add the baking soda and fried cashew nuts to the ravai mix.
  10. Spoon out the batter into the depressions in the idly plates.
  11. Place the idly plates in the steamer. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. When the surface of the ravai idly cracks or a matchstick (not the chemical end) inserted comes out clean, remove the plates.
  12. Cool a little and remove the idlies. Serve hot with Vengaya Sambar, Fresh Mango Pickle, or Coconut Thuvaiyal. This recipe yields 16 idlies.


  1. If the ravai is not already roasted, you will have to roast the ravai till a dextrinised smell arises.
  2. The ravai idly batter will be thick. Therefore if the curds you are using are watery, you will have to use less curds.
  3. The water in the idly steamer should not touch the idly plates.
  4. The idly plates should be stacked such that perforations of the plate below should align with the depression of the plate above to allow the steam to circulate and so that the steam condensing will not fall on the idly below.
  5. The baking soda and cashew nuts are added just before transferring the batter to the idly plates to derive maximum benefit from the carbon dioxide released from soda and to keep the cashew nuts crisp.



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